Springdale, AR - The Northwest Arkansas Naturals took the series opener against the Springfield Cardinals, 10-5, before 3,810 fans at Arvest Ballpark on Wednesday night.
The Cardinals (8-11, 41-46) got out to a quick start against RHP Andy Ferguson, striking for two runs in the top of the first inning. LF Mike O'Neill started the contest with a double to right field. After he moved to third on a passed ball, O'Neill came in the final ninety feet on an RBI sacrifice fly by DH James Ramsey. One out later, 1B Xavier Scruggs slugged a solo home run, his league-leading 22nd long-ball, over the left field fence, doubling the early lead to 2-0.
However, the Naturals (11-8, 36-53) came right back in the bottom of the second. Three consecutive singles against RHP Seth Blair opened the inning, loading the bases with no outs. After a pop up to shallow left field, 2B Whit Merrifield lifted an RBI sacrifice fly to right field, getting the Naturals on the board. CF Brett Eibner followed with a two-run triple to right-center, evening the score at 3-3.
After a two-run triple by Merrifield in the bottom of the fourth swung Northwest Arkansas into the 5-3 advantage, the Cardinals battled back in the top of the sixth. 3B Ruben Gotay led off the frame with a base hit, before moving to second after a Scruggs walk. Gotay took third on a fly out to right-center and then darted home on an RBI grounder by C Cody Stanley, which also moved Scruggs to second base. 2B Luis Mateo tied the game with an RBI double tattooed inside the left field line, scoring Scruggs to make it 5-5.
The Naturals, though, had a quick response in the bottom of the sixth against the Cardinals bullpen. After RHP Jose Almarante (L, 1-1) struck out the first batter of the inning, SS Rey Navarro and RF Yem Prades got on with back-to-back singles. A two-base error by Scruggs on a grounder from C Mitch Canham then enabled Navarro to score from second, with Prades and Canham reaching third and second base, respectively. After another strikeout, Eibner worked a walk to load the bases, and the Cardinals turned to RHP Heath Wyatt. However, DH Orlando Calixte won the battle, driving a grand slam over the left field wall to stretch the new Naturals lead to the eventual final score of 10-5.
Northwest Arkansas RHP Sam Runion (W, 3-2) logged 1.1 innings of scoreless relief to log the win.
Click here for the complete box score from Wednesday's game.
Don't miss St. Louis RHP Chris Carpenter make a rehab start in Springfield this Monday!
The former Cy Young Award Winner, two-time World Champion and three-time All-Star, Cardinals RHP Chris Carpenter, will make a rehab start for the Springfield Cardinals at Hammons Field this Monday! First Pitch is 7:09pm, gates open at 6:09pm.
In nine years and 198 career starts as a Cardinal, Carpenter has gone 95-44, winning 15 or more games for the Cards in five of the six seasons in which he's made at least 20 starts. He ranks 3rd in Cardinals history with 1,085 strikeouts, only 10 behind Dizzy Dean. His .683 winning percentage as a Cardinal not only ranks 2nd all-time for St. Louis pitchers with at least 100 starts, but it is also the best in all of Major League Baseball over the past nine seasons.
He has been an All-Star three times throughout his career (2005, 2006 and 2010), and in 2005 became the first Cardinal since Rick Wise in 1973 to be named the starting pitcher for an All-Star Game.
Click here to get your tickets to see Chris Carpenter at Hammons Field this Monday!
The Cardinals kick off a four-game road series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals on Wednesday at 7pm. Catch all the action live on Jock 98.7FM and SpringfieldCardinals.com, and tune in 15 minutes early for the Coyote's Sports Cafe Pregame Show.
Springfield then returns home for a four-game home series against the Arkansas Travelers, starting this Sunday at 6:09pm. This Sunday is the Rick's Automotive Pink Tote Bag Giveaway (2,500) and the Pink in the Park Specialty Jersey Auction, benefiting the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
Sunday is also a Hiland Dairy Ice Cream Sunday with a free ice cream party for kids before the game, courtesy of Hiland Dairy. All kids can then run the bases just like the Cardinals after the game. Gates open at 5:09pm.
For information about becoming a Season Ticket Holder, organizing a Group Outing, booking a Cake Pop Company Birthday Party or ordering Individual Game Tickets right now, call the Front Office at (417) 863-2143 or visit SpringfieldCardinals.com.
Click here for the Cardinals full 2013 Promotional Schedule and to get your tickets right now.
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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.